Thursday, May 27, 2010

Have You Hugged Your Wine Today?

It had been a long and demanding day that began with an 8:00am meeting and then continued to gather momentum like the freight train I was watching, waiting to pass. After a stressful evening volunteering at Our House, the AIDS facility I work at each Wednesday night, I was finally making my way home. The hour was late; my head was pounding, my body aching, my stomach doing anything and everything to try and get my attention and I was stuck there, watching those blinking lights staring back at me, yelling at me to stop with their flashing red eyes. The cars were beginning to back up behind me through the next block and yet the train rolled on, car after car after car.

Practically hypnotized by the railroad crossing sign, wondering if it was ever going to end, like a slap across the face, my attention quickly came back to focus as the couple in front of me got out of their car and proceeded to dance around it, doing a little doe-see-doe at both the front and back. It was like a Chinese Fire Drill, only so much better. At first I was mildly entertained by their antics, speculating about how much they had to drink. As I continued to observe the scene, they seemed completely oblivious to anyone’s judgment, utterly wrapped up in each other and in this random moment of freedom and pleasure. I found myself suddenly affected… emotionally moved by their sense of spontaneity, their open minds, their playful nature. Like a voyeur observing this private, impulsive gesture, I watched them laugh and bear hug each other before getting back in their little car and I wondered what other spontaneous moments lay in store for them down the road.

The journeys we take on the road of life often have a tendency to be so planned out, we often lose sight of how it’s the detours and those impromptu dances in front of a train that really keep things interesting. I stopped off at my neighborhood grocery store, Barbur World Foods for a bottle of vino therapy and scanned the shelves looking at my choices; I typically select something from Oregon or Washington. So, where’s my spontaneity? While I’m completely caught on the whole “Buy Local” thing hook, line and sinker, it just didn’t sound very fun, playful or open-minded tonight and that’s what I was in the mood for. I decided an import would be best, but it had to be from someplace really obscure, someplace I’d never think to buy wine from. Barbur World Foods has a Middle Eastern/Arabic influence, selling traditional ethnic products (like fresh fava beans, dolmas in a can and homemade baklava) in addition to the staples—it’s the bomb. They also have a pretty darn good selection of wine and the wine steward really knows his stuff, which makes it a dangerous combination and fabulous for impulse shopping—could there have been a better place for me to wander into? It was like divine intervention.

Being as I’m in a Middle Eastern market and feeling oh so spontaneous, I gravitated towards the Lebanese wines when this one practically jumped into my arms. Wait a minute, Lebanese wine? Really? I don’t think I’ve ever bought Lebanese wine, well, except Maysara, does that count? Do you think it could be any good? No… don’t question it, go with it, be spontaneous, be open-minded, be in the moment, no regrets.

Honestly, I can’t say as I’ve ever been quite so excited about a bottle of wine, in fact, I could hardly wait to get it home. I was wishing I had a little corkscrew/bottle opener key chain like I did in high school so I could open it in my car. Instead, I set that baby down in the seat next to me and smiled a sly little smile at her and then I just had to do it. I didn’t care what anyone thought; I gave that bottle of Lebanese wine a big bear hug and then the two of us drove off down the road as I wondered what other spontaneous moments might possibly lie ahead. Until we sip again…


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Illahe - Is it the Name of a Winery or a Tropical Island?

Illahe, it sounds like it could be the name of some exotic island I wouldn’t mind being shipwrecked on, but it’s actually a Chinook jargon word meaning soil, earth or land. Illahe Vineyards and Winery, located in Dallas, Oregon, aims to produce wines reflecting the variety of soil, earth and land on their 50-acre estate.

Founder, Lowell Ford has always been a visionary, growing wine grapes in Oregon since 1983 and then helping to create the Northwest Viticulture Center at Chemeketa Community College.

One of the things that drew me to Illahe Vineyards initially was how creatively they go about being environmentally conscious; for instance, they use horse-drawn trailers to harvest their grapes (see my previous post 10 Oregon Wineries Making One Small Change). Their marketing brochure advertises how they crush their fruit using the traditional French method of pigeage. My understanding of traditional pigeage means that naked men press the ripe fruit and skins down with their feet. I didn’t ask how traditional their pigeage was, but I sure am wondering!

Bethany Williams started my tasting off with their 2009 Viognier aged entirely in stainless steel yet thick with tropical aromas of mango, pineapple, peach and banana and beautifully bright acidity. Illahe started producing this wine on a fluke, when they got some of the fruit from Albany for free (score of the century), and it’s turned out to be a real keeper. The 2007 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley was deliciously mouthwatering and showed succulent raspberries, tart red cherries with a long, spicy cinnamon finish.

In honor of Earth Day, on the day I visited Illahe, there were several wineries showing their goods as well:

WildAire Cellars was founded in 2005 as the shared dream of Matt and Jean Driscoll of McMinnville, Oregon. The Driscolls produce their wines at Illahe’s winery and actually use some of Illahe’s fruit as well. The WildAire 2008 Timothy Pinot Noir, named in honor of Matt’s father who passed away two years ago, was clearly a fine tribute with lush flavors of wild raspberries, rainier cherries, vanilla and lovely yet lingering cinnamon spice. The 2008 Pinot Noir Reserve had considerably more new oak and showed a less fruit-forward and more complex nose of cherry, rhubarb, tobacco and rose.

Michael Lundeen is the owner, winemaker and viticulturalist for his tiny backyard vineyard, producing his Genius Loci wines at Illahe’s production facility (and is also Illahe’s winemaker). He grows the Pinot Gris for his 2008 Cuvee Desiree, which was aged in neutral oak and showed incredible depth with flavors of pear, almond, apple and ginger. When he told me he blends it with 5% Gewürztraminer, I better understood the spicy and savory notes underneath the fruit. The Genius Loci 2008 Pinot Noir was quite remarkable with a nose of blackberry bramble, cherries, tobacco, black tea and a floral delicacy that played against the kicky white pepper finish. The real star was his 2007 Syrah from Folin Vineyard; there was so much going on, I’m not sure where to start. First, I picked up two aromas, then four… next thing the wine’s exploding in my glass with plums, currants, licorice, chocolate and eucalyptus. The wine had a broad mouth, with medium-to-firm tannins and generous acidity that balanced out the fruit and spice flavors—gorgeous and memorable.

On my way out, I stopped and visited Illahe’s worker horses.They came up to say hi to me until they realized my carrot wasn’t a carrot after all, but a camera instead and tried to get away—say cheese! What I really wanted to do was climb up on one of their big, warm, bare backs and gallop down a remote, sandy beach somewhere. I mentioned my desire to escape to an exotic, tropical island, right? Perhaps if I said “Illahe, Illahe, Illahe” and clicked my heels together I’d get there. Until we sip again…


Monday, May 24, 2010

Vino and Vinyasa

Namasté. In Sanskrit, it means “I bow to you.” In Nepalese, it’s used to show respect for elders and those in a higher station, and in Sikh scripture it’s referenced as a salutation to the one God. The more common definition, and the one associated with yoga is, “The divine in me recognizes the divine in you and acknowledges we are the same."

So what does all this have to do with wine, you ask? I was wondering the same thing myself during my recent Ananda yoga practice as my mind kept wandering to my blog, wine reviews and how and what I was going to write about yet another winery. Thankfully my instructor called my attention and awareness back to the present and back to my body, by asking us to take a moment and recognize any changes we may feel from when we began and to embrace those changes. As I opened my eyes and turned to look at her, she told the class those benefits are ours to take with us, then bowed her head and said, “Namasté."

Feeling all the wonderful healing benefits of my practice, I said “Namasté” in response when this idea about Vino Therapy popped into my mind with the same intensity as a champagne cork comes out of its bottle. Personally, yoga is more than just exercise, it’s like rehab for my mind, body and spirit—integrating and harmonizing the physical, mental and spiritual states of my being, making them all feel better. In my opinion, wine has very similar therapeutic effects. If I feel particularly agitated, wine can completely calm my mind or and it’s also been known to stimulate powerful spurts of creativity. Wine has many scientifically recognized and welcome benefits to the body, reducing the risk of heart disease, fighting certain cancers and slowing the progression of neurological degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease (not to mention how it benefits your sex life, your meal or the economy). The effects on my spirit are endless, if I’ve had a bad day, a glass or two is a sure-fire cure, but above and beyond that, wine inspires passion, gives me drive and just plain brings me pleasure. Ananda literally means bliss, or one’s highest inner happiness. Ananda vino?

When I look at my glass of wine, I can genuinely say “Namaste” recognizing the light, beauty and divine within… the benefits for body, mind and soul. Can you? If so, those benefits are yours to take with you today and for the rest of your days. Namasté and until we sip again…


Friday, May 21, 2010

Portland's Porkfest Heads to Seattle… Don't Miss Cochon 555

If you have any interest in Pork or Wine, you make have heard about last weekend's Cochon 555 event in Portland. I may have finally digested all that food, just in time for Seattle's debut! Read about the highlights of the night (nope, I missed the brawl) and learn where the national porkfest will be heading next as I guest blog about it on Drink Nectar…

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dude-Approved Oregon Rosés

My most recent adventure involved my husband and myself blind tasting eight bottles of Oregon rosé—I was sure to win him over. Read the story on Cork'd, you'll find reviews of each of the wines as well as the story of my husband's conversion to pink wine.

Lose Yourself In Time at Helvetia Vineyards

If you’re looking for a break from fast-paced city life and seeking some long lost country-style hospitality, you’re sure to find it at Helvetia Vineyards. Established in 1982 by one of the friendliest men in Oregon’s wine industry, John Platt will guide you through his wines, talk to you about the farm’s rich history and, if you’re lucky, he might even hop in your car for a ride up the road to give you a tour of his winery.

Founders John Platt and Elizabeth Furse Elizabeth planted grapes in 1982 originally to supply home winemakers and actually hadn't considered making wine at the time. Their intent was to grow something to satisfy the requirements of farm tax deferral, and wine grapes seemed the likeliest of crops. Later, when these very same home winemakers started winning awards, John's interest in winemaking was sparked. 1996 brought about their first commercial crush and they’re now producing 1,300 cases of estate wines from their 10-acre vineyard located on a southwestern face of the West Hills at the northern tip of the Tualatin Valley (which is actually still within the Willamette Valley).

Winery mascots Jake and Coco are the real greeting committee at Helvetia Vineyards, and even on a spring day that was as soggy as breakfast cereal after sitting in milk a bit too long, who could possibly resist sloppy, wet kisses from a face like this?

The winery’s visitor center is located within a 100-year-old historic farmhouse which now features a display of some of the original winemaking equipment found in the cellar as well as hammocks, horseshoes, croquet and picnic tables to help make your country retreat complete.

While admiring an old framed photo of the original residence, John relayed the story of how this photo was actually a postcard sent to the owner, Jacob Yungen, from his daughter Elise expressing her troubled situation as a single mother while trying to raise her young children. She had mailed it from Reedville, Oregon with a message scrawled on the back asking for help. Looking at that ancient photo of Jacob sitting on the front deck while his daughter Elise gathers her children at the back door moved me in a way which seemed to send me whirling backwards through time. I wondered who took that photo. I could imagine how drastically different her life must have been—to be a woman in 1900. Can’t you just feel their struggle? As I looked into their faces, I tried to understand their relationship. Why is Jacob sitting on the front deck while his daughter and grandchildren stand out back? The house’s air was thick with stories of labor and love, of people and time and I wanted so much to just breathe them all in; yet their secrets remained as elusive as the apparitions themselves. John brought me back to the current century by offering me a tasting of his wines.

Miss Kitty (the resident floozy) affectionately swirled around my feet as I swirled my wine in my glass. She kept me company while I enjoyed a 2007 Chardonnay that was a bit like that tropical vacation I so badly need. With notes of banana cream pie and kefir lime adding a nice twist of tartness, it was like eating dessert while on that tropical vacation… double bonus, all for the value price of $13.00. Ka-ching!

The 2008 Pinot Noir had just been bottled three weeks prior to my visit, and though very young and fruity (put that baby to bed), amidst the sweet strawberries and tart cranberry smell, I detected a bit of barrel funk that’s sure to add elements of intrigue as this wine develops. John offered me a bit of smoked salmon, which brought out a lovely earthy component in the wine, similar to freshly dug truffles. He said he gears his wines towards smoked salmon, and I don’t know how he does it, but he’s right, the combination was very complementary.

John didn’t have to twist my arm to convince me to drive with him over to the nearby winery for some barrel tasting. Jake and Cocoa apparently didn’t want to miss the opportunity either as they ran alongside the car trying to keep up. I thought I lost them, but apparently, they knew just where we were headed and caught up with us before I could even park the car. The wines in the barrel room were listening to some Jazz a la NPR’s Prairie Home Companion (so that’s where that funk in the wine came from) while we tasted an 09 Pinot Noir already developing some nice complexity showing similar moist earth and truffle notes as the 2008 vintage. Sensing I must be a rosé fan, John went to great lengths to siphon off some 2009 Pinot Noir Rosé for me from the Rose Vineyard, a one-and-a-half acre block that doesn’t ripen up quite like the rest. The wine was vibrant and teased my nose with smells of comforting memories of childhood—bubble gum, watermelon and strawberries. Like a fountain of youth, too bad it wasn’t bottled yet.

I dropped John back off at the old Victorian estate and it occurred to me how history has a way of shaping perspective, molding thoughts on your own reality like a lump of clay. Looking up at the windows of the house, envisioning whose faces have looked out of that glass over the years, it occurred to me how closely connected we all are no matter how much time separates us. When Jacob Yungen wrote home about his new life in Oregon, he said, "The North wind howls here every time it frosts. However, the grapes often ripen full and wonderful." So, the house is still here, there are just new faces peering out the windows. The grapes are still ripening, wine is still being produced and families are still gathering on the farmhouse estate where time has a way of just slowing down so much, it’s almost as if it never existed. I guess things haven’t really changed all that much. Until we sip again…


Monday, May 17, 2010

Tasting Room Etiquitte, Things Everyone Should Know

Memorial Day weekend typically indicates the start of winery touring season almost like a pistol signals the start of a race. As more and more people become aware of what a fairly inexpensive recreational activity wine tasting can be (I said wine tasting, not wine buying, though hopefully the former does lead to the latter), and with tasting rooms popping up quicker than dandelions, wineries may often find themselves pouring to a packed house. There are some things you should keep in mind which can help you plan a winning winery tour day, you’ll find them in my article on Cork’d. Until we sip again…


Monday, May 10, 2010

Hawks, Eagles and Exceptional Wines

What does it mean when you’re driving and you see three separate coyote roadkill carcasses? My first thought was to call my friend Rachel and ask her if she’s ever tried coyote for dinner. My next and almost simultaneous thought was, “Oh shit, it’s a Three-Coyote-Roadkill Day, that can’t be good. I should probably just turn around and head back home right now!”

Sometimes, while out touring the countryside, often lost but looking for a specific off-the-beaten-path winery, I make a game out of spotting hawks. It goes back to living in the mountains in Colorado where my main source of entertainment on long daily drives to town was catching glimpses of those magnificent birds of prey who made their presence known only when their empty bellies forced them to find the quickest and easiest meal around—carrion (kind of like fast food for animals). That gift (the sight of these impressive birds) while beautiful in and of itself, always seemed to serve a greater purpose, feeling much like an omen, a prophecy of what the day held in store for me. If it was a One Hawk Day, it would probably be a good day, Two Hawk Day—even better. A Bald Eagle Day? Well, who knew what could happen—and so on and so on.

So when I passed not one, not two, but three separate (and fresh) coyote roadkill incidents in the span of 10 miles or so (without seeing a single hawk), I naturally wondered what kind of bad sign this could be. Thoughts of spiritual warnings were flitting like spring birds in and out of my head as I pulled into Kramer Vineyards, where instead of spotting hawks or eagles, I turned my head and saw the familiar twists of my friend Fred Gunton’s handlebar mustache instead and knew all would be just fine.

Kramer Vineyards, located just outside Gaston, was founded by Trudy and Keith Kramer in 1983 after some earlier experimentation with berry wines. On their 20-acre parcel, they’re growing Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Pinot gris, Riesling, Muller Thurgau, Carmine and Muscat with four acres scheduled to plant to Petite Munier and Gruner Veltliner.

When you arrive at Kramer, expect to be greeted by either or both of the resident labs, Cassie and Kosmo, and rest assured, they’ll keep you company while you linger on the delightful deck savoring the estate-driven wines. There’s a lovely wine barrel fountain (with fish), which serves a dual purpose, both providing guests with a little ambiance and also being the town’s largest dog bowl.

Kim Kramer-Kreiger, one of the winemakers, was pouring a selection of 2005 and 2006 vintage wines in their Reserve tasting lineup that were quite memorable. The 2005 Pinot Noir Heritage was a deep red color with a strong nose of red fruit (cherries, plums, raspberries) and a pleasing perfume of roses and a hint of vanilla. This wine opened up slowly, then revealed cherries, strawberries, cola and attention getting spice that’ll keep you coming back for more and make you wish you had a case.

Kramer Vineyards also produces a fantastic Merlot with from grapes from Walla Walla, Washington. The 2007 Merlot was rich and lush in my mouth, layered and complex showing pretty blackberry and plum fruit flavors on top of coffee, chocolate and a seductive finish of clove that’s spicy and sweet at the same time. I wasn’t crazy about their whites, didn’t try the Rosé, but the reds give anyone good reason to visit.

Still not knowing what message those coyote’s were trying to send me, I left Kramer feeling a bit mystical, wondering if there was a story there I’m supposed to tell. I often look to the universe for signs about which direction I should take at a certain crossroad, so I wondered. Am I at a crossroad? Is this a sign that’s meant to detour me? I realize now, in reflection, that I haven’t visited many wineries since this day… perhaps I took that detour after all. I’m a bit unsure of where I am, but I'm pretty sure it’s exactly where I need to be and with hope, my next day will be full of hawks, eagles and exceptional wines! Until we sip again…


Fred Gunton of Entertaining Wine Tours provides amazing personalized and customized tours of the Willamette Valley’s small boutique wineries, large estates and hidden gems. Give him a call to arrange your unique wine country visit today, you’ll be glad you did.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Finding Common Ground - A Tribute to Mom

Mom doesn’t like wine—never has, never will. She doesn’t like much really; her diet consists of coffee, bread, chocolate, steak, potatoes, cantaloupe and Pepsi (in that order). When I was growing up, cigarettes were really first on that list, but somehow the fear of walking around with oxygen tankfully motivated her to kick her pack-and-a-half-day habit.

Mom’s an amazing woman whom I admired while growing up for her strength and presence and then somehow tried my hardest to avoid becoming as an adult. When I recognize her mannerisms within me, rather than appreciating them, I turn and run from them like a champion sprinter—please don’t let me be like her. Does every girl fear becoming her mother?

On the rare and stupid occasions I compared Mom to Grandma, I was met with one of the most evil glares I’ve ever seen my mother wear. She does this death stare where you can feel her eyes flashing daggers that dig deep into you, searing your raw flesh. Ouch.

Mom’s mom was not a pleasant woman. She was a Polish-Jewish immigrant who married a poor man she didn’t really love and who never gave her the life she wanted. I hate to speak badly of the dead, but truthfully, she was a mean, bitter woman who was jealous of her own daughters and intent on punishing everyone and making anyone around her miserable—please don’t let me be like her. Even Grandma’s kindest words were backhanded compliments, like “With a punim (face) like that, you think you’d have found yourself a rich husband by now.” Thanks Grandma. While I guess the mother/daughter jealousy thing’s not unusual, perhaps I’m lucky I have two sons (though I did so want that daughter, why exactly again?).

Mom’s defense was and still is humor and it’s served her well over the years, both to protect her from her mother’s quick jabs and evil tongue, and also in areas beyond mere protection. One of her claims to fame is making my father belly laugh—almost daily—even after 50 years of marriage. Those deep, silent laughs that leave his stomach jiggling like a big bowl of Jello, his eyes streaming wet with tears and his lungs screaming for breath. And if you knew my dad, who’s a serious and very reserved man, you’ll know it’s not an easy feat. And it’s not just Dad, I watch her when we’re out in public; she derives immense pleasure, as if it’s her meaning in life, to make others around her laugh.

I love this about her. As a child, I also hated this about her since what I really wanted was to just slip by unnoticed most of the time, and there she was drawing attention to us.

Lucky me, I did receive her gift of sarcasm, and hopefully a tiny bit of her wit lives on in me too, but I’ve found myself completely entranced with things she’s never been remotely interested in. She tried to keep me sheltered in her world of burned barbequed steak and french fries, brainwashing me against haute cuisine, but I’ve uncovered something that’s touched the very depth of my soul, and sadly, no matter how hard I try, I'll never be able to share it with her.

She doesn’t understand my passion for food and wine. She says, “Will you stop swirling that glass already.” She turns her nose up when I mention the foods I'm enjoying. She has no patience or comprehension of wine tasting, my project, articles I’ve written or this blog for that matter. I’d be willing to wager a guess she’s never even looked at my blog or even knows what a blog is (if you ever do look Mom, I love you!). Though her mind is open in most areas, she’s more finicky than a child when it comes to food and drink. It’s one of our greatest differences and I’m perfectly at peace with that. So, while Mom may not like wine and I’ll never like coffee, at least we can always agree on chocolate.

Happy Mother’s Day to inspiring and loving moms everywhere! Until we sip again…


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Indie Wine Fest Inspires the Poet in Me

Today's the Indie Wine Festival and I guess I'm feeling a bit artsy, creative and independent as well. I find myself sitting in front of my computer, on one of the most beautiful mornings of the year, thinking about this festival and how it showcases the artisan winemaker—kind of like a giant poetry slam of wine. In that spirit, I'd like to throw out a challenge to other writers to create their own wine poem as a tribute to all independent producers who dedicate themselves to crafting the liquid art we love to imbibe. The following is my attempt at haiku.

See, hear, smell, touch, taste
All five senses in a glass
Experience wine

Thursday, May 6, 2010

10 Local Favorites for 10 Oregon Wines

1. Burgerville Burger
Paired with 2008 Ponzi Tavola

2. Lily’s Hummus
Paired with 2008 Elk Cove Pinot Gris

3. Oregonzola
Paired with Medici Late Harvest Riesling “Ice Wine”

4. Apizza Scholls
Paired with 2006 Mystic Barbera

5. McMenamins’ Tator Tots
Paired with 2008 Watermill Viognier

6. Food Carts
Paired with 2007 Van Duzer Pinot Noir Estate 375 ml (secretly poured into a glass)

7. Jake's Clam Chowder
Paired with 2007 Chehalem INOX Chardonnay

8. Voodoo Doughnuts Maple Bacon Bar
Paired with Argyle Extended Tirage Brut 1999

9. New Seasons wok bowl
Paired with 2007 Trisateum Riesling

10. Video Poker
Paired with Sokol Blosser Evolution Lucky Edition

This piece had several sources of inspiration. First and foremost, acknowledgment to the Eat Local and Shop Local movements and to the sheer number of amazing Portland foods you don’t want to miss. Secondly, when I read Oregon Wine Blog's story about being wined and dined at the Vancouver Washington location, it triggered my memory about a previous post they had done on pairing Voodoo Doughnuts with Sokol Blosser Medritina and it all came together here. Thanks to all for helping bring this one to life. Enjoy and until we sip again…


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

10 Things I Learned About Wine (From My Three-Year-Old Son)

1. It’s mama's!

2. It tastes yummy!

3. It smells like wine.

4. Gold, sparkly labels are pretty.

5. You can visit a lot more wineries after a good nap.

6. Swirling and sniffing is fun, even with a glass of water (try it!).

7. Two wine bottles fit perfectly in the child-sized shopping carts at Market of Choice and Trader Joes.

8. Corks might taste really good when you put them in your mouth, but they are indeed a choking hazard.

9. If you drank water and juice all day, you would never have a hangover.

10. Wine pops!

Until we sip again…


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Get Your Tickets Now For Pinot in the Pearl!

Rabbit liver mousse and pork head cheese
2007 Trisateum Riesling

Course One
Sweet breads with apple pear salad & hazelnut vinaigrette
2008 Adelsheim Pinot Blanc

Course Two
Cedar-plank salmon with spring vegetables and sauce bordelaise
2007 ROCO Pinot Noir

Course Three
Roasted squab breast with morel risotto
2006 RR Pinot Noir

Course Four
Buffalo short ribs with housemade gnocchi, peas and green garlic
2008 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Adalfo’s Block

Course Five
Apricot almond tart
Anam Cara Late Harvest Gewurztraminer

Salivating at all yet? This menu (prepared by Chef Andrew Biggs) was from a media dinner I attended last week at The Heathman Hotel announcing the first ever “Pinot in the Pearl.” I had the pleasure of sharing a table with the incomparable Sheila Nicholas of Anam Cara Cellars, Northwest Palate and freelance writer Angie Jabine and the illustrious Enobytes founders, Pamela Heiligenthal and Marc Hinton (whom I really suspect the movie “Catch Me If You Can” is based on, and if you ever see his resumé, you’ll understand why).

Piggybacking on the Pearl District Association’s “First Thursday”, over 30 wineries from the Chehalem Mountains and Ribbon Ridge AVAs will be pouring more than 100 limited production wines, for the first time ever, in Portland on Thursday, May 6th, from 5-9pm at Venue Pearl. Get your ticket today for $25 (including a parking pass) or pay $30 at the door. This ticket price is a phenomenal value—I’ve been to many similar events that charge at least three times the cost. Visit Pravia Wines to purchase your tickets in advance.

Chat up these winemakers and winery principals
who’ll be showing their stuff:

Adelsheim Vineyard, Alloro Vineyard, Anam Cara Cellars, Anne Amie Vineyards, Arborbrook, Archery Summit, Artisanal Wine Cellars, Barking Frog, Blakeslee Vineyards Estate, Carabella, Chehalem, Cooper Mountain, deLancellotti Family Vineyards, Elk Cove, Et Fille, Freja Cellars, Hawks View Cellars, J.K. Carriere, K&M Wines, Lachini Vineyards, Laura Volkman Vineyards, Le Cadeau, Longplay Wine, Raptor Ridge, Rex Hill, Roco Winery, RR Wines, Terra Vina Wines, Trisaetum, Utopia, Vidon Vineyards.

Nothing pairs better with fine art than a glass of fine wine
and some great food. Restaurants prepared to dazzle you:

The Painted Lady, The Heathman Restaurant, 50-Plates, Aquariva Italian Grill, Gracie’s, Phresh Organic Catering, Sweet Masterpiece Chocolates, The Sweetest Thing Cupcakes, Whole Foods and Volcanic Minerals Refresher.

Don’t worry, if you find something you can’t live without, bottles and cases will be available for purchase. Hope to see you there; we can raise our glasses and toast to memorable Oregon wines. Until we sip again…